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Public Safety remains vigilant against hate

 

No one should have to fear being the victim of a hate crime on Chemeketa’s campuses.

However, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate crimes and hate groups have seen a dramatic resurgence on college campuses in recent times.

Bill Kohlmeyer, Chemeketa’s Director of Public Safety, doesn’t want members of the Chemeketa community to have to worry about their safety.

“We want people to be safe here,” Kohlmeyer said. “We want people to come to school and be able to relax and concentrate on getting an education, as opposed to being worried about their personal safety.” Kohlmeyer considers the maintaining of such an environment to be the reason his office exists.

He also said that Chemeketa students don’t have much cause for concern anyway.

In regards to hate crimes occurring on Chemeketa’s campus, Kohlmeyer said that the problem is “almost nonexistent.” In his nine years serving as Director of Public Safety at Chemeketa, he said that instances of hate crimes have been “very, very rare.”

In those rare instances where hate crimes have occurred on the Chemeketa campus, Kohlmeyer assured that the individuals in question were punished. He also said that the response could differ depending on whether the individuals in question were those who attend Chemeketa classes, or faculty.

“If it’s students involved, then the dean of students office gets involved, and it’s a behavioral issue, and it could involve some kind of disciplinary action,” Kohlmeyer said. “If it’s employee, then it’s handled through HR, and they handle it as a disciplinary action through their supervisors.” Kohlmeyer said that he is not aware of any arrests having been made in response to hate crimes in the past.

Kohlmeyer even addressed the possibility of outsiders from Chemeketa committing hate crimes on campus.

“I do spend some time thinking about and worrying about and concerned about maybe… outsiders, non-Chemeketa folks coming on campus and trying to agitate things,” Kohlmeyer said. “It doesn’t happen, but it is something that’s certainly possible. We see it happening on other colleges and universities, we see outside people that are not connected just coming there to cause problems.”

Kohlmeyer stated, however, that such individuals would be dealt with: “If they come here and they violate any of our policies, they can be trespassed immediately.”

The public safety director emphasized a desire to cultivate an open and safe atmosphere for students, not just a desire to enforce safety. “There could be a difference between actually being safe and feeling safe,” Kohlmeyer said. “We want people to feel safe too, because that’s going to affect the way they perceive the school, and it’s gonna affect their education.”

Kohlmeyer encourages anyone with concerns about safety to come talk to him or his department. Public Safety would be “happy to sit down and talk to folks about what the realities are, and what steps they should take if they’re in fear or if they’re being confronted with situations that are questionable,” he said.

Public Safety can be reached via telephone at 503-399-5023.